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Shame On Me and Other Fibs We Tell Ourselves

Updated: Feb 1

- Teresa Jacobson, DBH, LPCC-S, NCC

July 30, 2020

High-shame and self-criticism are very detrimental to our overall well-being. Those who feel shame and self-criticism also tend to find the idea of self-warmth and self-acceptance not only difficult, but quite terrifying.

We tend to shape our views about ourselves through our perception of how others view us during childhood and adolescence. If our belief is that an important person to us saw us negatively, then we are likely to view ourselves through a similar lens.

Early caregivers have a lot of power in the way we view ourselves, and whether or not we become self-criticizing, shameful, or self-appreciative and respectful of ourselves. In an unhealthy caregiver relationship, this harm and poor self-perception then turns into deep beliefs of self-criticism, self-blame, self-shame, inferiority, submissiveness, and sometimes self-hatred.

Other traits of high-shame beliefs can lead to envy, internalized or externalized blame, anger, defensiveness, resentfulness, self-torment and distanced (Zaslav, 1998).

“Guilt and shame generally coexist...It is shame-related states that uniquely involve negative or degraded holistic self-conceptualizations that lead to problems in functioning” (Zaslav).

We often internalize these views which can develop into unhealthy core beliefs or harmful schemas about ourselves.

The Lies Adopted

Some very harmful schemas that are common with high shame and self-critical people, might include:

“I’m not worthy of love,”

“I’m not desirable,” or

“I don’t deserve to live.”

Unhealthy schemas typically lead to emotional suffering from low self-esteem or insecurity, self-critical style, self-anger and contempt, lack of confidence and trust in self or others, loss of energy, depression, relationship difficulty, and more (Gilbert & Procter, 2006).

Impairing and a Contagion

Shame can feel crippling and contagious (Brown, 2020). “We all have shame, and no one likes to talk about it…shame hates being spoken”. Shame’s power is destruction. “We are hard-wired for connection, love and belonging, and it’s why we are here and it’s what gives purpose to our lives...shame is the belief we have not done enough...shame is real pain." It can be crippling and it can spread.

Being shamed is very traumatic. But shame can heal with love and compassion. I beg the question, why does it have to be there in the first place?

With willingness to understand and compassion, shaming others and the pain that ensues from that harmful behavior, can end.


Teresa Jacobson is a Doctor of Behavioral Health and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Supervisor who is counseling Ohio and Kentucky adults of all ages and life experiences via secure Telehealth/Video visits. A strength-based, person-centered multi-cultural counselor, with an existential philosophy, Teresa can be reached by emailing, calling (513) 206-3026, or visiting



Brown, B. (July 1, 2020). Unlocking us. Brene on Shame and Accountability.

Gilbert, P., and Procter, S. (2006). Compassionate mind training for people with high shame and

self-criticism: Overview and pilot study of a group therapy approach. Clinical Psychology

and Psychotherapy. 13, 353-379. Doi:10.1002/cpp.507.

Zaslav, M. R. (1998). Shame-related states of mind in psychotherapy. J Psychother Pract Res.


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